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Screenshot 2014-07-24 08.52.28

So apparently my employer, ThoughtWorks, has been anointed the toughest recruitment process of any technical company according to http://www.businessinsider.com.au/hardest-tech-company-job-interviews-2012-8.  Now this is clearly unverifiable bollocks in terms of any connection to an objective reality.  That said, it’s fair to say our recruitment process intends to be thorough and is time consuming.  The overall process might seem daunting to candidates on the starting line and staring ahead at each of the interviews as another hurdle to be cleared.

But there’s another way to look at this as well, and as an 11 year resident of this system and someone who gets frequently involved in recruitment, I’d like to share my perspectives…

Firstly, let’s start with some math (basic math – the only sort I can do).  The average employee works in a job for about 4.4 years according to Google (although this number is coming down) which means a minimum of 7,700 hours (over an average 4.4 year tenure) at 220 working days/year and 8 hours/day.  If you also include overheads like travel time, lunch breaks and the regular amount of time people put into their jobs beyond the basic 8 hours-a-day, then you quickly approach 10,000 hours over 4.4 years.  Simply put, work is the single biggest time investment for full-time employees.

Given this level of investment we have in our jobs, I’d recommend taking a reasonable amount of time to work out whether a potential employer is going to be a good place to invest those 10,000 hours of your precious time.  Or which potential employers aren’t worth that investment.  

A developer who has completed the entire ThoughtWorks recruitment process will have invested the following amounts of their time in the process:

  • 30 minutes for a phone interview
  • 10 hours completing a coding problem (note: This is a guess.  I don’t have any real data on this, but we give candidates 72 hours to return the completed problem to us)
  • 1 hour for an in-office pairing interview 
  • 1 hour for a higher level technical interview
  • 1 hour for a cultural interview
  • 1.5 hours for a series of aptitude tests
  • 1 hour for a final meeting with someone from the management team
  • Add to this time to do research (2 hours?) and travel time to/from the interviews (4-8 hours depending on how many of the interviews are batched up together.

Total all this up and you have around 25 hours or about 0.25% of the average time you’ll spend working with us if things run full course.

On the ThoughtWorks’ side, our investment is an equivalent number of hours: we usually have 2 people involved in many of the interviews but only need to invest in reviewing the coding problem rather than completing it.

How many hours would you spend looking to buy a house compared to the time you are using it?
How many hours would you spend looking at cars before deciding to purchase?

Given all this, I struggle to see how a recruitment process that consists of a “large” number of steps is inherently bad… assuming those steps are all adding value to both the candidate and employer: which is what I want to talk about next.  

Stay tuned.